Electric Cars
April 19, 2011 07:34 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Will electric cars ever become the common way to drive? What is needed is an infrastructure that allows easy recharging of the vehicle (such as gasoline stations are for the internal combustion engine). There are two key barriers to plug-ins: first, the current battery technology is very expensive, adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a plug-in. Next, many well-established sectors must change to accommodate plug-ins. Consumers must learn the pros and cons of a plug-in lifestyle, and a new way of valuing upfront costs against operational savings. Utilities must learn to manage a large and mobile load. Cities, retailers, and other businesses must incorporate a new infrastructure of charge spots. All these players must build a new system of connectivity in order to line up charging times, billing, and consumer preferences.

Incredible rites of passage: Scarred for life, new from BBC Earth
April 18, 2011 05:47 AM - Adelle Havard, BBC Earth

With a dangerous reputation, crocodiles would not be the first animal you would associate with mental and physical strengthening. Surprisingly, the people of Papau New Guinea have a connection between man and beast that marks a boys journey into adulthood. Many traditional celebrations that accompany events like birth, the start of adolescence, marriage, and death are richly integrated with the use of natural materials; such as feather, skin and bone. But when an occasion as serious and important as the coming of age beckons, the rituals connection between cause and effect must reflect this intensity. Many inhabitants of the South Pacific islands practice some form of physical transformation during male adolescence. The sacred act of scarring which people of the Solomon Islands practice can make rituals such as ceremonial hair cutting, and being cast into the wilderness for a short period seem relatively less challenging. For decades, tribes have used the tradition of scarification to mature their young boys into men. For a number of weeks, the boys psychological as well as physical barriers are pushed with consistent verbal taunts as well as public humiliations. However their discipline is yet to be tested to its breaking point.

New from BBC Earth: Human Planet
April 15, 2011 12:48 PM - Editor, BBC Earth

Human Planet has arrived: The first natural history series to ever focus solely on human behavior. With a phenomenal collection of over 80 stories from over 70 locations around the world, the lens has been breathtakingly turned on one of the most successful species on the planet...Humankind. Bringing together the same fantastic program making as seen in the award winning Planet Earth, and widely-acclaimed blockbuster LIFE and The Blue Planet. The BBC has again teamed up with Discovery Channel to reveal and examine the amazingly complex relationship of humankind and nature in the modern day: Through the eyes of those who have learned to adapt and survive in some of the most unforgiving environments on earth. Heralded by the national press such as The Telegraph as being "like nothing you've ever seen before", this fascinating series made by documentary makers with over 50 years natural history experience, brings home the message that human's relationship with nature is still very much alive and well. This landmark series that weaves stories never told before on television will premiere on the Discovery Channel on Sunday April 10, 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. (EST) with two episodes each night. Human Planet will then arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on April 26, just two days following the last broadcast.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Size
April 13, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 miles by 45 miles.

Plant Biomagnetism
April 11, 2011 08:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The origin of the word biomagnetism is unclear, but seems to have appeared several hundred years ago, linked to the expression animal magnetism. The present scientific definition took form in the 1970s, when an increasing number of researchers began to measure the magnetic fields produced by the human body. The first valid measurement was actually made in 1963. Now plant biomagnetism has been little studied. Searching for magnetic fields produced by plants may sound strange, but physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, are seriously looking for biomagnetism in plants using some of the most sensitive magnetic detectors available.

2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar
April 7, 2011 03:48 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributiing Editor,ENN

What choice will consumers make? After attending the 2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar in La Jolla, California (April 4-7, 2011), this is what I walked away thinking. In all respects, Americans are already asking themselves questions like this about the life they live. With regard to the cars we drive it is time to think hard about the way we drive and what we drive. Presenters at the seminar addressed, and in many cases provided the current findings about fuel cells, hydrogen, electricity, the electric grid and electric cars. Economic forces, geopolitical forces and the DOE directed Future Transportation Fuels Study were explored in detail. The choices for a greener driving future are proliferating and each has its advantage and disadvantage. The economic costs to our society in moving toward a greener driving future were reviewed in exploring the many mobility choices we must make as a society and as consumers. Again this year I loved being behind the wheel of the almost to market (Spring 2012?) Plug-in Hybrid Prius and with the announcement during the Seminar of the sale of the one-millionth Prius in the U.S., it’s easy to see that Toyota understands what the hybrid consumer is looking for. Now a more focused approach to the spending of scarcer infrastructure/development dollars is warranted and the key to that approach will be all of us discussing what type of car we as consumers will pay a bit more for and how much it matters to us to be free to ‘put the pedal to the metal’. It’s like turning out the lights when you leave the room, we all know we should do it but don’t always stop to think.

New Car Engine Sends Shock Waves Through Auto Industry
April 7, 2011 08:51 AM - Nic Halverson, Discovery News

Despite shifting into higher gear within the consumer's green conscience, hybrid vehicles are still tethered to the gas pump via a fuel-thirsty 100-year-old invention: the internal combustion engine. However, researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90 percent when compared with conventional combustion engines.

Star Jets
April 6, 2011 08:04 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Astronomers have discovered that two symmetrical jets shooting away from opposite sides of a blossoming star are experiencing a time delay: knots of gas and dust from one jet blast off four-and-a-half years later than identical knots from the other jet. The finding, which required the infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is helping astronomers understand how jets are produced around forming stars, including those resembling our sun when it was young.

Kilauea Volcano
April 5, 2011 08:11 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Kilauea volcano that recently erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii will be the target for a NASA study to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth's surface. Kīlauea is an active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. It is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian archipelago, as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaii hotspot. Kīlauea is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and an invaluable resource for volcanologists who are able to study it up close due to its exclusively non-violent effusive activity. Since 2008, rising emissions of sulfur dioxide from the Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea's summit have led to increased levels of volcanic smog and local air quality concerns.

Novel Technique Reveals How Glaciers Sculpted Their Valleys
April 1, 2011 08:44 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 31, 2011) — The beautiful and distinctive U-shaped glacial valleys typical of alpine areas from Alaska to New Zealand have fascinated and frustrated geologists for centuries. While it seems obvious that glaciers scoured the bedrock for millions of years, what the landscape looked like before glaciers appeared, and how the glaciers changed that landscape over time, have remained a mystery. The glaciers erased all the evidence.

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